ARTSHIFT Honors Artist and Curator with Cash Awards

Out of a long list of special people that contribute to Silicon Valley’s diverse and exciting visual arts community, one artist and one curator were selected for $2000. cash awards that were presented on October 21, at Works Gallery in downtown San Jose. The awards were presented to Signe Mayfield and Ken Matsumoto by Scott Knies, Executive Director of the San Jose Downtown Association.

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Works Gallery filled with celebrants enjoying libations and conversation at the ARTSHIFT Awards, 2009

A supportive crowd of artists, friends and family were on hand to enjoy the occasion, and to support and congratulate all nominees . ARTSHIFT Editor, Erin Goodwin-Guerrero thanked the ARTSHIFT Advisory Board, Donors to ARTSHIFT, fiscal sponsor: the Arts Council Silicon Valley and all the talented and creative people that make the South Bay community from Palo Alto to Santa Cruz an exciting place to live.

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Kathryn Funk, Ben Alexy and his Mom join in the festivities.

Scott Knies spoke about Matsumoto and Mayfield:

The recipient of the 2009 ARTSHIFT Artist Award is Ken Matsumoto. The award is based on both his outstanding achievement as an artist and his significant contributions to our community.

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Scott Knies congratulates Ken Matsumoto on his award.

Ken earned his MFA degree from San Jose State University in 1983. Since that time he has pursued a professional career as a sculptor working in stone, steel and glass producing dramatic public works of large scale and private works of more intimate scale. His solo exhibitions include shows at the Triton Museum of Art of Santa Clara, the de Saisset Museum of Art at Santa Clara University, the Carnegie Center for the Arts, Turlock, as well as private galleries in San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento, Carmel, and Los Angeles. His work has also been included in many group exhibitions. Since 1985 Ken has won fourteen public art commissions ranging from here in San Jose: the Entrance Gate to Japan Town to public projects in Sacramento and others as far away as Arizona and North Carolina.

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Interior view of one of the several gallery spaces inside Matsumoto’s ArtObject Gallery

Ken Matsumoto began by opening his studio in an old factory space over ten years ago. As outreach to the community, he built an exhibition space, the Art Object Gallery adjacent to his studio, a second artist’s studio, and an outdoor gathering space (complete with fine mist spray during really hot weather!). Since 2000, he and guest curators have produced solo and group exhibitions of paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and ceramics open to the public. Today, Art Object Gallery is the longest surviving private gallery in San Jose, providing a venue for dramatic play readings, poetry slams and musical performances, as well.

Visitors to Ken’s studio in Japan Town are immediately engaged by his massive works in stone. As he has written, “I seem to have found a form and a process that, in a simple and straightforward way, expresses my view of man’s relationship to nature. I’ve taken stones of various types and sizes and worked them to create objects which suggest the form and function of vessels. I see these objects as metaphors for the idea that man and nature are one, and therefore the results of man’s activities on the environment is as much a part of the natural order as the effects of wind and water. In other words, I, as the artist, am the agent of erosion.”

In his recent Triton Museum exhibition were included new works in red brick commemorating Dr. Ishikawa, an important member of the Japanese historical community who bequeathed his house to the Japanese American Museum. When the house was demolished to build a more suitable structure for the Museum, Ken used salvaged red bricks to create a series of vessels as a memorial to Dr. Ishikawa.

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Bricks and Mortar, made from the bricks of Dr. Ishikawa’s home, by Ken Matsumoto

This story embodies essential qualities of Ken Matsumoto as artist and citizen. He works with traditional materials in new and inventive ways, expressing and commemorating his personal cultural heritage and sharing this work and the work of many others with the larger San Jose community.

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The 2009 ARTHIFT Award Winner as curator is Signe Mayfield, Curator of Exhibitions at the Palo Alto Art Center, nominated for the quality of her exhibitions and the exposure she offers to artists whose work is included in her traveling exhibitions.

For more than 17 years Signe Mayfield has been Curator of Exhibitions at the Palo Alto Art Center, consistently producing high quality exhibitions for Palo Alto and the Peninsula..

She has produced numerous one-person shows for local artists with both regional and national reputations, among them Nathan Oliveira, Bruce Metcalf, Robert Arneson, June Schwarcz, Masami Teraoka and Robert Brady.

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Bruce Metcalf’s miniature sculptures, in exhibition at the Palo Alto Art Center

Mayfield is recognized by artists, museum professionals, and gallery experts for the creativity and originality of her group exhibitions, often organized around unique themes or fascinating esoteric concepts. Their true power is that the individual artist’s work comes alive and shines when assembled in the context of these group exhibitions. Local artists have praised her for her ability to find opportunites to travel these shows to other distant yet prestigious venues where Silicon Valley artists become the stars arriving from afar.

Some of Signe Mayfield’s unique group exhibitions in 2008-2009 include: Tales from an Imaginary Menagerie, 2009, featured fantasy animals in a variety of media including tapestry, photography, painting and video. From Fire to the Forefront, Selections from the Forrest L. Merrill Collection, 2008, ceramic and enamel vessels by masters including Otto and Gertrud Natzler, Lucie Rie and others. Intertwined, 2008, showcasing tradional and innovative contemporary baskets.

Mayfield also developed Radius, the Art Center’s juried exhibition that affords South Bay artists an opportunity to exhibit in a museum-quality space.

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Sukey Bryan’s Exit Falls, in Radius at the Palo Alto Art Center

Signe Mayfield makes their exhibitions appropriate and engaging for both adults and children. In addition to thousands of adult visitors each year, the Art Center provides inspiring school tours of Mayfield’s shows to more than 5500 students a year. She has managed to produce all these exhibitions on what most would consider a shoe-string budget, drawing on the resources of local galleries, collectors and artists.

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On accepting the award, Signe Mayfield amply praised her dedicated staff that are part of an indispensable team effort in producing quality exhibitions.

One of her fans, Sharon Fox says, “Signe‚Äôs exhibitions have never let me down. She is committed to educating her audience about different artistic trends, materials, techniques, and cultural traditions. Her range is broad, but unified through her focus on providing opportunities for learning and inspiration around the arts. Signe’s unique vision and dedication to quality, has given Bay Area artists an outstanding venue for their work, and the community an opportunity to view first-rate exhibitions, right here in their own backyard.”

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